Fondly known as King Charles Spaniel in the United Kingdom, the English Toy Spaniel (ET) is a purebred small dog breed held in high esteem. Quiet and unassuming, this laidback breed is an excellent companion for people with mobility issues like the elderly. 


For centuries toy spaniels were a favorite among the royal families. Nicknamed Charlie after the two King Charles’ who were big fans of the breed, these spaniels were slightly different from modern-day toy spaniels. 

Crossbreeding in the 18th and 19th centuries with the Japanese Chin and Pug resulted in the features seen in the breed today. 

At the end of the 19th century, spaniel breeders were challenged to recreate the old-style spaniel, resulting in a slightly larger breed called the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. 

Charlies are called English Toy Spaniels by the American Kennel Society and King Charles Spaniel in their homeland.

Physical Characteristics

The English Toy Spaniel has a short face, a domed head, sizable dark eyes, long ruffled ears, and a beautiful flowing luscious silky coat. The body is compact and square-bodied. 

The breed’s feathered tail is docked and measures 5cm to 10cm. The coat is usually straight or slightly wavy. The legs and feet also have silky feathering. 

Charlie is sometimes confused with the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, but there are clear distinctions. Cavaliers have longer noses, flatter heads and their ears hang higher.

Charlie has an abundant coat with long silky fur that is straight to slightly wavy. Coat colors include: 

  • Red and white- Blenheim
  • Mahogany red- Ruby 
  • Black and tan- King Charles
  • Tri-color (white, black, and tan) – Prince Charles 


The English Toy Spaniel is roughly 10 to 11 inches (25 to 28cm) tall and weighs 8 to 14 pounds (3 to 6kg).

Character & abilities

The English Toy Spaniel is a dog that is effortless to like with and to live with. He is quiet, affectionate, graceful, funny, and adorable. Wholly devoted to a favorite person, this breed can suffer from separation anxiety

Charlie loves cuddling and snuggling. He is relaxed indoors and a sucker for comfort, laps and couches. His melodic eyes beg for pampering, which he gratefully accepts.

This passive yet jovial breed is ideal for senior citizens. However, small children can easily overwhelm him, and he cannot stand any excitement and rough handling. 

Charlies can be overbearing and determined, as well as picky about who they associate with. However, they are friendly at home and cheerful and adventurous at play with their favorite humans.

This small dog breed can be timid around strangers or new environments. However, he gets on well with fellow dogs and cats, especially when socialized with them. 

Trainability & Intelligence

English Toy Spaniels are intelligent little dogs with a desire to please their pet parents. This breed is independent and sometimes stubborn, disregarding commands when first given. 

This dog breed prefers being off-leash, making leash training difficult. However, this training is necessary because walking this breed requires a leash to keep Charlie from chasing birds into traffic and protect him from being injured by other dogs. 

However, housetraining Charlie is an easy process. This breed can be successfully trained to potty on paper, which is convenient for those nightly walks when a yard is unavailable. 

Positive training works exceptionally well with this small dog breed. Tummy rubs or play sessions work miracles for this dog breed. Charlie is also motivated by lots of praise.

Exercise Needs & Nutrition

English Toy Spaniels are generally laid-back and don’t require much exercise. Just a daily stroll or a small game in the yard will suffice. However, this breed is not the ideal walking companion as long walks can aggravate his joints. 

Because this breed spends most of his time indoors, Charlie can quickly become obese. The recommended daily amount of high-quality dry dog food is 0.5 to one cup, divided into two meals. 

Keep an eye on the dog’s calorie intake and weight. Yes, treats can be a vital training aid but should be given in moderation to stop the dog from gaining excess weight. Any table scraps should also not be frequent and should steer clear of bones and foods rich in excessively high-fat content.


The English Toy Spaniel is an average shedder and needs very little grooming. To keep the coat silky requires a bath once or twice a month with a high-quality dog shampoo. Once a week, combing can detangle the fur and remove any dead hair. 

Charlie’s adorable face regularly gets dirty around the eyes after sleeping and even after meals. Cleaning the face daily with a damp, warm cloth is the best solution. 

Regular brushing of the teeth and ears allows examination for any discharge or foul odor, which are serious symptoms that require a vet’s intervention. When this breed stops eating, it is usually because his teeth are problematic. 

Living Conditions & Adaptability

This small dog breed does exceptionally well as an apartment dog because he is not particularly active. However, Charlie does appreciate a small yard but should never be left outside or housed in a kennel.

The English Toy Spaniel has a short muzzle making him susceptible to heat exhaustion. Therefore, his home should have adequate ventilation and air conditioning. In addition, walking outside should be limited when the weather is hot and humid. 


Although English Toy Spaniels are relatively healthy dogs, some health and genetic screening factors are unique to this dog breed.

The dog breed is susceptible to the following conditions:

  • Eye conditions
  • Heart problems
  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Palate or cleft lip
  • Neurological problems
  • Digestion sensitivity
  • Dental disease
  • Obesity
  • Anal gland problems
  • Fused toes
  • Open fontanel
  • Umbilical hernia

A healthy English Toy Spaniel can live for 10 to 12 years. 


There’s so much more to this dog breed. This is just a glimpse of what to expect to help you decide that an English Toy Spaniel could be your ideal dog. Keep an eye on this dog as you would a child. Shut the door doors, clean after yourself, and barricade rooms as needed. This helps keep her out of mischief and away from items she should not be putting in her mouth.

At All The Small Dog Breeds, we understand how challenging the process can be when looking to adopt a dog. We provide detailed small dog breed descriptions to help you determine which breed suits your personality, home and lifestyle. We recommend adopting from your local animal shelter or visiting a reputable breeder. 


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